The First Step Toward a Compelling Reason for Leading

A leader without purpose aimlessly jostles on well-worn paths.

A leader with purpose climbs through the fog.

Purpose pulls leaders into the future with courage and vitality.

Purpose is:

  1. Light in the eyes.
  2. Fuel in the tank.
  3. Fire to the imagination.
  4. Direction to the feet.
  5. Grit in the heart.
Foggy mountain. 

A leader with purpose climbs through the fog.

The first step toward a reason for leading:

Focus on ‘do want’ more than ‘don’t want’.

Ask people what they want; they tell you what they don’t like.

Politicians use don’t want and don’t like to whip constituents into froth.

You never create beauty with won’t and don’t.

Yes, ‘not doing’ is part of meaningful leadership. But if you have the gift of ‘don’t want and don’t like’, it’s time to reflect on DO WANT.

Wisdom knows how to tear down AND build. Incompetence can only destroy, but skill builds up.

Do wants:

Look for ‘do wants’ behind ‘don’t wants’.

The deception of fools is the belief that ‘don’t want’ and ‘don’t like’ is meaningful contribution.

#1. List your top five don’t wants or don’t likes. (Make a longer list if five is too short.)

#2. Think beyond yourself. What don’t you want for your family, team, organization, even the world?

#3. Move from DON’T to Do. How might you distill your ‘don’t wants’ into a ‘do want’ – a compelling contribution?

#4. Design actionable strategies to move toward what you DO WANT. Whatever you design, make it actionable today.

Overcome seduction:

If you have the gift of ‘don’t want’, you’re miserable. Even worse, you drag people into misery.

The seduction of ‘don’t want’ and ‘don’t like’ is self-affirmation.

You feel powerful when you express don’t wants. Sometimes you are. But the real question follows. What do you want?

What steps might help leaders discover a compelling reason for leading?

What do you want today?

Bonus material:

8 Principles of Purpose-Driven Leadership (Success)

Helping Your Team Feel the Purpose in Their Work (HBR)

Finding Your Leadership Purpose (Perspectives)